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 The Theatreguide.London Review

On A Clear Day You Can See Forever
Union Theatre Autumn 2013

The primary reason to see this revival of a 1965 Broadway musical is a thoroughly charming star performance by Vicki Lee Taylor at its centre. Nothing else about the show or the production lives up to her very high standard. 

Inspired by a best-selling book of 1956, America went through a brief flurry of fascination with the idea of hypnotic regression to past lives. But the fad had passed by the time Burton Lane (music) and Alan Jay Lerner (book and lyrics) got this musical to Broadway, which is one reason it lasted only six months. 

The story is of Daisy, a kookie modern New York girl (think a young Goldie Hawn) who drops in on a psychologist's demonstration of hypnotism, goes into a trance, and starts speaking in the voice of Melinda, an eighteenth-century English heiress.

Violating professional rules by the carload, the shrink not only continues to explore this earlier life while telling Daisy he's just stopping her smoking, but falls in love with the more attractive Melinda.

(Another reason for the musical's failure is that, having written himself into this corner, Lerner couldn't find a way out, and the ending just leapfrogs over all the complications and loose ends in a single song.) 

Still, Burton Lane's melodies, particularly in the title song, the bluesy 'What Did I Have That I Don't Have?' and the yearning 'Come Back To Me', are attractive, and Lerner's lyrics show an unexpected Porter-ish wit, so there's enough there to carry the evening. 

But the fact that the musical was adapted for film in 1970 as a vehicle for Barbra Streisand (and still failed) clues you into how very much it lives or dies with the actress playing Daisy/Melinda, and Vicki Lee Taylor delivers at least half of the ideal performance. 

Her Daisy is a glowing creation comic, bouncy, delicate and touching in equal parts, thoroughly loveable and kookie without being twee. (That her Melinda isn't quite right, more haughty patrician than proto-feminist, I blame on director Kirk Jameson, since a better characterisation is well within Taylor's range.) 

What's more, Taylor is the only one in the cast who can actually sing, making the most of the melodic 'What Did I Have That I Don't Have?' as well as the comic 'It's Lovely Up Here'. The tiny Union stage lights up whenever she's on it, and loses all energy when she's gone. 

As the shrink, Nadeem Crowe acts well and speak-sings his songs adequately, though he doesn't do justice to the title song and never really convinces us that he's in love with Melinda rather than the lucrative book deal he foresees. 

The rest of the cast range from barely adequate down, both as actors and singers, the opening chorus ear-shatteringly shrill. Cover your ears for the first two minutes and just put up with the greyness around her to enjoy Vicki Lee Taylor's performance.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review -  On A Clear Day You Can See Forever - Union Theatre 2013 

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